Litwini w III RP
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Lithuanians in the Third Republic of Poland
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The article presents the situation of the Lithuanian minority in the Third Republic of Poland. Lithuanians who densely inhabit a small area of north-east Suwalki region, in and around Puńsk and Sejny, form a close-knit community. This is the autochtonous, almost exclusively rural population. Lesser and dispersed groups of Lithuanians live on the entire territory of Poland. The overall number of the Lithuanian minority of Poland is approximately 7.5-8 thousand people. In the new reality after 1989 there have been changes in the organized activity of Lithuanians. The Lithuanian Social-Cultural Society which had existed for over thirty years changed its name to the Association of Lithuanians in Poland. New organizations were also founded, such as: the Lithuanian Society of St. Casimir or the Community of Lithuanians in Poland. For Lithuanian activists one of the most important issues was the cause of education in their native tongue. At the beginning of the 1990s the “Aušra” Publishing House began the printing of the first books in Lithuanian since the Second World War. The “Aušra” quarterly was transformed into a monthly and then again into a biweekly. Besides, regional stations of the public radio and television began broadcasting regular programmes in Lithuanian. Lithuanians are characterized by a high national self-awareness and the ability to organize themselves in the defense of their interests. A high degree of internal integration minimized the process of assimilation and allowed them to retain their distinctive individuality, their own language, culture and system of education. The factors that facilitate this phenomenon are: a compact population inhabiting a small area, peripheral location, isolation from the Polish society.
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